Changing SOLIDWORKS Dimensions to reflect changing design intent

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated August 17, 2016


Okay, so you’ve spent some time designing a part and then you go to make a change and realize that your Design Intent has changed. Changing design intent involves changing SOLIDWORKS dimensions. Let me give you an example:

Changing SOLIDWORKS Dimensions as design intent has changed

Design Intent Changed

So in the above example, I thought that the length of the middle bar of my “E” part was more important than the relative length of it to the top/bottom bars. This can often happen if there starts out being no design intent or if the design intent is unknown. It can also happen if you “inherit” someone else’s design. I don’t care what the 50mm dimension is, I want to control the dimension marked in red. While it might be easy enough to delete and replace the dimension, did you know I can change the dimension’s reference just by dragging it? Let’s take a closer look at that 50mm dimension:

Select the dimension to get these blue handles

Select the dimension to get these blue handles

Drag and drop a dimension to make a change

Once you’ve selected the dimension, it will show you blue handles, which can be used to redefine the dimension. Just drag and drop it to the edge you now want it to reference:

Drag & Drop Dimension Handle

Drag & Drop Dimension Handle

Then, before you can blink twice, your sketch reflects your new design intent:

Change Complete

Ta-da! Change Complete.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).